Shoshoni Map Rock


On the left is a line drawing of the Shoshoni Map Rock, delineating and identifying selected features. On the right is a map of the corresponding area. The interpretation is based in part on a letter by from E.T. Perkins Jr. (1897) and on a typescript from J.T. Harrington (n.d.) Features 2-10 are hydrological, 11-14 are conspicuous peaks, 15-18 are watersheds, and 19-23 are animal features. Source: Cartography in the Traditional African, American, Arctic, Australian, and Pacific Societies by David Woodward and G. Malcolm Lewis


This basalt petroglyph in Southwest Idaho, near the banks of the Snake River, is exemplary of indigenous cartography which is derived from and passed down by oral tradition and memory. It has long been interpreted as a map of the upper Snake River country, made by a pre-colonial Shoshoni cartographer. Both the Snake and Salmon Rivers can be observed in the design, alongside images of many animals of the region. Buffalo, deer, mountain sheep, elk, antelope, and human figures are present. The richest hunting area within the Shoshoni homeland was in this northeastern area, where the basins meet the mountains, and the ecological diversity is great.




  1. If you own the rights to the photo of map rock I would like to obtain a release to publish in an upcoming book by Esri Press. Thanks. – Jeff Simley


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